Coming to the FTAA? Welcome to the VFAM

Letters from the Issue of September 18, 2003

That would be the Violence-Free Area of Miami: Regarding Tristram Korten's column "Meet Us in Miami" (September 11), on the protest activities planned for the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) ministerial meetings in November, and the possibility of violence and civil strife in downtown Miami: It needs to be emphasized that the activities of the various local groups -- particularly of organized labor and its community allies -- will be explicitly peaceful, nonviolent, lawful, orderly, and respectful of personal property. The goal will be to demonstrate concerns with the FTAA in a family-friendly environment.

In addition, it needs to be said that those who come to Miami in November with the intention of instigating a violent confrontation with local law enforcement do no favors to those of us in the fair-trade movement who have legitimate concerns with the proposed FTAA that would surely be overshadowed by violence and disorder in the streets. It would be self-defeating for those various labor, community, environmental, and consumer groups who are organizing locally for the FTAA to allow out-of-towners to create a climate of fear that would dissuade locals from participating in the protests.

There is a pressing need for the Miami and Miami-Dade police departments to strongly commit themselves to respect the rights of all who come to the November meetings and to proactively engage those planning protests to resolve potential problems before they arise. The commitment to nonviolence in November, remember, is a two-way street.

John Ise

Biscayne Park

Bossa Nova Is Boring

But hey, there's a lot more to Brazilian music than that: Celeste Fraser Delgado couldn't have expressed her views about the Latin Grammys in a better way ("Mirror, Mirror," September 11). I am Brazilian and attended the show. I am a huge fan of Brazilian music (I also love salsa, merengue, bachata, flamenco) and I was very disappointed by the way our music was represented on the program. Maybe it will take years for that to happen, or maybe people think Brazilian music isn't Latin music.

I expected to see Gilberto Gil performing, and then when Tribalistas sang, people were leaving. My family in Brazil watched, and their performance was cut off in the middle. I wish I had gone the night before to Loews Hotel and experienced Gilberto Gil, Daniela Mercury, and others. That sounded much more powerful than the Grammys itself.

Ana Cordeiro

Coral Gables

High-Rise: It's Crush Time

Old laws and sneaky developers: Congratulations to New Times and thanks to Kirk Nielsen for bringing to light something many of us are concerned about and not enough of us are questioning ("It's a Mad, Mad, Mad Loft World," September 4). There is another consequence to the recent building boom that, I feel, has not yet been thoroughly thought out. The majority of the new high-rise residential projects going up are lofts. One would think it's simply because they are fashionable, but the economic reason is that they are cheaper to build than traditional apartments because there is less interior work that must be completed (fewer walls and so on). It does not end there, however.

The real cost savings, the one that will adversely affect our quality of life dramatically, is that the number of parking spaces required of builders under current ordinances is based on the number of bedrooms per unit. This means that no matter how large the unit is, if it is a loft, only one parking place is required. Most of these new developments have asking prices that start around $200,000 and go higher than $500,000. Many exceed 2000 square feet and will still be required to provide only one parking space. How many one-car households can afford units in that price range?

People can come in and add walls and make bedrooms as they wish, after the fact. The current ordinances don't address this because the concept of loft living was not yet popular here when these ordinances were crafted. You can imagine what an impact all this new development will have on our neighborhood's parking situation in the near future. We need to do something before it is too late.

Luis Penelas

Miami

High-Rise:

Downtown Is Ascendant

And I should know since I've been there three decades: "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad Loft World" is an example of excellent research presented in a pragmatic and pleasant style. However, I disagree with analyst Andy Dolkart when he says, "I can tell you there aren't 20,000 folks who work downtown and want to live downtown right now." I can prove that, yes, there are 20,000 folks who work downtown and want to live downtown right now.

I have been in downtown Miami for 30 years as a property owner/developer/ activist, and have spent the past ten years pioneering residential development in the core -- with success. The building shown on page 29 under Dolkart's quote is phase one of K Place, and it is a perfect proof of my claim. K Place is a series of new high-rise, mixed-use buildings to be erected in the heart of downtown Miami, with loft-type market-rate apartments to be sold at affordable prices.

It is no miracle that 196 apartments were sold at "The Loft Downtown" (without ever going to market the traditional way) in three private parties given primarily for employees of the city, county, Jackson Memorial Hospital, and MDCC. The formula: Make people an offer they cannot refuse. Loft-type apartments with ten-foot ceilings, wide-open floor plans, stainless-steel appliances, and Italian cabinetry with granite countertops were offered for sale starting with one-bedroom, one-bath units at the super price of $99,000. Downtown Miami does have a captive audience of at least 20,000 folks who work and want to live there, but who also need to be able to afford it. These people belong to the poorest class of all: the middle class.

K Place is the answer. For a while it was my dream. Now finally it's a reality. Thanks for helping readers to become interested in downtown living.

Rafael Kapustin

Kapustin Corporation

Miami

Menoyo's Bold Move

No wonder the aging Calle Ocho warriors hate him: Regarding Kirk Nielsen's story about Eloy Gutierrez-Menoyo ("Our Man Back in Havana," August 28), those who make up Calle Ocho's right-wing element have had the rug pulled out from under them by Menoyo's daring decision to stay in Cuba. It is clear they cannot find a way out of the debacle they've created for themselves.

Witness Joe Garcia's attempt to question Menoyo's loyalty. Mr. Garcia, executive director of the Cuban American National Foundation, refers to an early conspiracy to put an end to the Cuban revolution in its first year, 1959. It was known as "Trujillista Conspiracy," as it was masterminded, coordinated, and financed by dictator Rafael Trujillo of the neighboring Dominican Republic -- one of the most bloodthirsty strongmen in Latin American history.

It is sad to see a young man like Mr. Garcia speaking like a Batistiano. Additionally let me remind Mr. Garcia that all those arrested during those events did not die or suffer execution as he suggested, thanks precisely to Menoyo, who has always opposed the death penalty, and to the way he specifically conditioned the arrest of the conspirators under such terms. Menoyo was 24 years old at the time. Cuba was jubilantly celebrating the triumph of a popular movement that impacted the world and inspired Latin America. Who in his or her right mind was going to support an attempt sponsored by the cruel jefe Trujillo?

Jesus La Rosa

Port St. Lucie

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